Books ó The jungle of Amazonia

The jungle of Amazonia

By Robert Greene

The strange tale of five years on the frontline at 

Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut, by James Marcus, Published by New Press, 2004, 224 pages.

What happens when one of the biggest online marketing schemes the world has ever seen fails to work? And fails to work? And fails to work? And then fields $5.3 billion in sales and starts making a profit?

James Marcus, hired to work at because he knows his literature, also knows the behind-the-scenes story at Amazon and he spells it out in Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut. Marcus recounts Amazonís early days, when everyone at the company was urged to try different ways to drive customers to the website. In Marcusís case, it was writing and assigning reviews.

Over time, however, the corporate culture changed, Marcus writes. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who once believed providing quality content was the way to go, changed his philosophy to what Marcus calls the ďculture of metrics.Ē In that scheme, everything about the site could and must be measured, and as Amazon added more and more products, the importance of content slipped away.

Itís east to see that Marcusís best time at Amazon was in the early nonprofitable years, even if that meant he moonlighted at picking and packing books during the holiday rush.

Amazonia is an interesting read if not a good one. Marcus is a decent writer and the story is interesting as the journal of a pop-culture phenom, if nothing else.

- Robert Greene

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH